Barack Obama’s legacy lives on, which one California farmer is learning the hard way as he faces an outrageous fine because he dared to plow his own fields.
In what sounds like a story out of The Onion, the owner of Duarte Nursery is facing the onerous fine after he purchased 450 acres of land to sow crops with, only to turn around and learn he was in violation of some obscure rule within the Clean Water Act after he plowed one of his fields. The Record Searchlight is reporting that John Duarte has been paying out the rear in legal fees fighting a lawsuit from the Army Corps of Engineers because they sued for his failing to get a permit to plow land that he legally purchased.
Because in the unconstitutional land grab from Obama’s EPA, farmers are required to obtain permission from the Corps of Engineers to plow any of their lands deemed protected by the CWA. Unfortunately for Duarte, parts of his land fell under such designations.
More from the Record Searchlight:
The case began in 2012 when John Duarte, who owns Duarte Nursery near Modesto, bought 450 acres south of Red Bluff at Paskenta Road and Dusty Way west of Interstate 5.
According to Francois and court documents, Duarte planned to grow wheat there.
Because the property has numerous swales and wetlands, Duarte hired a consulting firm to map out areas on the property that were not to be plowed because they were part of the drainage for Coyote and Oat creeks and were considered “waters of the United States.”
Francois conceded that some of the wetlands were plowed, but they were not significantly damaged. He said the ground was plowed to a depth of 4 inches to 7 inches.
The Army did not claim Duarte violated the Endangered Species Act by destroying fairy shrimp or their habitat, Francois said.
The wheat was planted but not harvested because in February 2013 the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to stop work at the site because Duarte had violated the Clean Water Act by not obtaining a permit to discharge dredged or fill material into seasonal wetlands considered waters of the United States.
Duarte sued the Army Corps and the state, alleging they violated his constitutional right of due process under the law by issuing the cease and desist orders without a hearing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office counter-sued Duarte Nursery to enforce the Clean Water Act violation.
Farmers plowing their fields are specifically exempt from the Clean Water Act rules forbidding discharging material into U.S. waters, Francois said.
However, according court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento, the tractor was not plowing the field. Rather, it was equipped with a ripper, with seven 36-inch ripper shanks that dug an average of 10 inches deep into the soil.
Also, the U.S. Attorney alleges, Duarte ripped portions of the property that included wetland areas.
The ripping deposited dirt into wetlands and streams on the property, in violation of the Clean Water Act, according to documents filed by the U.S. Attorney.
How stupid is that? Anyone familiar with farming realizes that ripping is the first step before taking discs to the land to break apart the soil. However, the government is using that step in the process to sue the farmer for doing what farmers do despite the fact that farmers are exempted from the law.
So now, in addition to being assessed major fines, the government is asking the judge to require Duarte to repair the land that he owns. Also, he may be required to purchase other lands to compensate for the alleged damage to the property south of his.
So again, Obama’s legacy lives on, and at least one farmer is about to lose everything he has because of it.